Read The Sandcastle (Vintage Classics) by Iris Murdoch Online


The quiet life of schoolmaster Bill Mor and his wife Nan is disturbed when a young woman, Rain Carter, arrives at the school to paint the portrait of the headmaster. Mor, hoping to enter politics, becomes aware of new desires and a different dream of life. A complex battle develops, involving love, guilt, magic, art and political ambition. Mor's teenage children and theirThe quiet life of schoolmaster Bill Mor and his wife Nan is disturbed when a young woman, Rain Carter, arrives at the school to paint the portrait of the headmaster. Mor, hoping to enter politics, becomes aware of new desires and a different dream of life. A complex battle develops, involving love, guilt, magic, art and political ambition. Mor's teenage children and their mother fight discreetly and ruthlessly against the invader. The Head, himself enchanted, advises Mor to seize the girl and run. The final decision rests with Rain. Can a 'great love' be purchased at too high a price?...

Title : The Sandcastle (Vintage Classics)
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ISBN : 12197992
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 324 Pages
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The Sandcastle (Vintage Classics) Reviews

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-06 23:29

    Description: The quiet life of schoolmaster Bill Mor and his wife Nan is disturbed when a young woman, Rain Carter, arrives at the school to paint the portrait of the headmaster.The setting is St. Bride's, described as a sound and reputable public school of the second class. The senior master, Bill Mor, is writing a work on the nature of political concepts. He is one of those dangerously good men dedicated to the truth. His wife, Nan, has a more sceptical nature, but she too is dedicated to an abstraction - the idea of marriage. They have two adolescent children.There are tensions, but everything is in control until Rain Carter, a young artist, appears on the scene. Her presence has an electrifying and disastrous effect. The whole seemingly solid structure of the Mors' world is found to be precarious, for when Mor falls desperately in love with Rain Carter the collapse of their family life seems inevitable.In the end patterns of order at least are restored; externally tragedy has been avoided, at whatever hidden cost. Miss Murdoch has written a masterpiece of high comedy, but it continues to haunt the mind. A tideless sea. I can recall, as a child, seeing pictures in English children's books of boys and girls playing on the sand and making sandcastles - I tried to play on my sand. But a mediterranean beach is not for playing on. It is dirty and very dry. The tides never wash the sand or make it firm. When I tried to make a sandcastle, the sand would just run away between my fingers.It would mislead others if I give this 4* as the plot is very thin, however, I thoroughly enjoyed Mor and Rain's angst. The symbolism is hob-nailed in at the denouement, yet the descriptive writing is sublime: Murdoch seems to of had the knack of writing so naturally, chatily. 3* Under the Net (1954)3* The Flight from the Enchanter (1956)3* The Sandcastle (1957)5* The Bell (1958)WL The Unicorn(1963)O An Unofficial Rose (1962)TR The Nice and the Good (1968)5* A Severed Head(1971)5* The Black Prince(1973)5* The Sacred and Profane Love Machine(1974)5* A Word Child(1978)5* The Sea, the Sea (1978)4* Existentialists and Mystics Writings on Philosophy and Literature4* Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch, 1934-1995

  • Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
    2019-03-29 06:46

    My mother read a couple of Murdoch books but never continued with this author because, as she put it, she found her work a bit too 'somber'. She also said that I would probably like them because I'm somber too. I suspect what she was referring too was Murdoch's implacable insight - a quality which, as an online acquaintance puts it, is downright preternatural at times. Murdoch is uncompromising in her meticulous, scrupulous characterisations, presenting people as realistic and complex. It would have been easy for her to round off the edges of a basically sympathetic character or to pile on a more inimical characters' bad points, but Murdoch does neither. It is almost as if these are real people and she is painting an accurate, unweighted portrait of them. So many fine things to treasure, so many memorable scenes and motifs, it's hard to summarise and I won't. This is a novel that has clear roots in the late 19th century tradition of realist, emotionally engaged, socially aware novels and yet is in itself fresh and gripping. Not somber but rigorous and therefore as exhausting as it is exhaustive and satisfying.

  • Ivana Books Are Magic
    2019-03-20 22:28

    Iris Murdoch is an exceptional novelist. I’m using a present tense despite the fact that she isn’t among the living, because I believe that in a way writers always live on- at least in their works. So, to me she still is a remarkable writer, even if she is not physically writing any more. Having finished this novel earlier this evening, I kept thinking about the reasons that make her so adapt and well suited for writing novels. One of these is surely her intellect. That her intellect was quite remarkable, to that we can all agree. I’m not familiar with her philosophical work, but honestly I feel that I don’t need to be. I don’t need to know everything about her career as an academic in order to be able to fully appreciate her as a writer. Moreover, perhaps it is better not to dwell on it too much. That Iris had serious brain power is very apparent in her writing. No need to go any further than that. In fact, I think what makes her a great writer is that she is able to put all that aside. When she writes, Iris becomes, first and foremost a writer. That is to say, she is a true artist, one that is naturally and wonderfully lost in the world of her creation. Intellect is just one of her tools she employs as a writer. So, what else makes her writing so remarkable? I suppose that many great novels can be said to have one important talent- that of making their characters come to life. Iris was certainly very good at that. She was such a careful observant of human beings, both as individuals and part of society. Iris understood just how complex a human being is, what an acute mess of profound and shallow all of us are. Sometimes what governs us is purely accidental. Sometimes we’re overcome by sometimes as banal as a passing emotion. We all change our mind more often than we would like to admit. Great decisions in life are at times made for banal reasons. Iris manages to capture that and somehow you can feel that she is capable both of restraining from judgement and making a slight fun of her characters.This novel like many of her works, focuses on theme of adultery and marriage. The novel opens up with Mor having a conversation with his wife. Mor is a deeply unhappy middle aged man. He is (as one American sitcom had put it) married with children. What is interesting is that he doesn’t even realize that he is unhappy. He is married to a woman that terrifies him, but somehow he doesn’t question that. After all, aren’t men expected to do the right thing, to take care of their families? Fulfil their duties and obligations? Much has been said about the entrapment of women in a domestic life, but aren’t often men just as unhappy with their life? If you cut them, do they not bleed?If you think that Nan, Mor’s wife is the bad guy here, you’re mistaken. Nothing so obvious and simple could take place in Murdoch’s novel. The tragedy is that Nan is deeply unhappy as well- on some level. That’s the thing. Aren’t all capable of being profoundly sad and remaining blissfully unaware of that? At some level we’re content to be content with less- that’s perhaps one of gravest tragedies of life.Nan is a passive- aggressive manipulator, but that doesn’t mean she’s not depicted as human. How wonderfully human she is! A professional wife, one that doesn’t try to find any interest of her own, one that finds her comfort in feeling superior to other fussy people because she has no need to fuss. Nan imagines herself strong, but she is deluded. Haven’t we all sometimes? Nan doesn’t deeply care for her children, her feelings for them are all instinct, she will take care of their needs, do their laundry when they came back from school but that is where her care ends. It is obvious she doesn’t dwell on the content of their souls. Nan purposely builds her life around her husband because that is what gives her control over him and in that way makes her feel in control of her own life. How horribly depressive, but you can’t help feeling for her, especially as the novel progresses and she develops further as a character. So, Mor falls in love with a young women. An exceptional young women. You would think her a femme fatale, but she is anything but. No, a femme fatale is not here- that would be too simple. Rain (that is her name) is an artist. I would hasten to add that it was a smart move to make her an artist. Not only did it gave the writer to explore the theme of art, but it added depth to the character of Rain. In reality, she is the one I felt for the most. Perhaps because she is so young. Age is not irrelevant as Iris knows very well.What about other characters? There are quite a few of them and they are all wonderful. Iris creates her characters with such attention to detail. It always astonishes me just how real they seem. For example, the old headmaster of the school in which Mor is employed. He is the one that receives Rain, the painter in his home. He is a close friend of Mor’s, but he detest his wife. In fact, that is what the opening conversation between Mor and Nan is about, he is telling her about how school decided to commission a portrait of the old master. She is appealed by the idea and considers it a waste of money- we can see a bit of clever foreshadowing here, can’t we?The other teachers from the school are quite interesting characters too. When it comes to other characters, I must especially mention Mor’s children. His son Donald is in his school while his daughter Felicity is away but she visits often. His relationship with them was very interesting. Despite him falling in love with other woman and being so lost in his feelings, you got this feeling that he is the one that deeply cares about them, not his wife- yet he is so awkward around them. The painfulness that Mor felt for not being able to connect to his children was much evident. A part of it surely comes from his own frustration with his life. Mor’s childen seem to be very intuitive, but that is actually a common trait in Iris’s writing. To me that intuitiveness of her young characters (teenagers and kids) always has a ring of truth in it. For aren’t the young ones often the most sensitive ones? I will just say a few more words on the story itself. I didn’t reveal much in this review because I want you to enjoy the novel, so I will just say that I enjoyed the plot. Everything that happened felt very logical and well thought trough. I liked both the story itself and the way it was written. In my view, the execution and the ending were both flawless. Murdoch just has a way of everything falling into place. It is more than attention to detail. It is more than intellect, it goes beyond being smart. It is more than being a good interpreter of human psychology or knowing just how people’s brain work. It is writing, it is as much about letting go as it is about staying focused. It is talent. It is a definitive writing talent, one you can feel in your bones. It is not so much about interpretation of human psychology as it is a view into our souls. That is truly rare.

  • Paul
    2019-03-30 04:23

    4.5 starsThis is Iris Murdoch’s third novel. It revolves around Bill Mor, a middle-aged teacher in a minor public school. He has a wife (Nan) and two children (Donald and Felicity). He also has some political ambitions; to stand as a Labour Candidate in a local parliamentary seat. He hasn’t yet had the courage to tell his wife as she will be opposed to this and generally gets her own way. Into this situation comes Rain Carter; a talented painter almost half Bill’s age. She is there to paint a portrait of the former headmaster. Rain and Bill fall in love with each other and Bill is then torn between his family and the prospect of happiness and a different life with Rain. There are twists, turns and workings out. There are elements of tragedy and comedy in fairly equal measure and Murdoch rather expertly makes it difficult for the reader to see where one ends and the other starts. There are a number of oddities in this; I am no expert in the nature of human attraction, but it was not immediately obvious why Rain fell for Mor. He was indecisive and rather lacking in personal charisma; both are also quite unworldly and Mor seeks to avoid confrontations (mostly with his wife). Murdoch uses a number of literary devices to move the story along and to provoke thought; letters being read by those not meant to read them, accidental encounters and the mysterious tramp/gypsy whose appearance seems to be a precursor to trouble. The characterisation is good and although the plot may be slow, it is never dull. The sandcastle of the title may be symbolic of the impermanence of hopes and dreams. All of the characters have lost something by the end, had some hope or other dashed. Murdoch does a very good job of illuminating the everyday hopes and despairs of ordinary people in a subtle and understated way. A good novel which reminds me that I must read more Murdoch.

  • June Louise
    2019-04-12 00:42

    This is the first Iris Murdoch book I have read and I know it will not be the last. One word sums up The Sandcastle to me, and that word is WOW!! Loved it, loved it, loved it!Set around a boy's school and its staff, we meet Mor, his rather forceful wife, Nan, and their two teenage offspring, Don and Felicity. This seems to be quite a dysfunctional family in a way, especially Felicity who believes she has a special "gift". Then enters into the story some of the school staff, Revvy Evvy, Demoyte, Hensman and the stuttering art master, Bledyard. Finally there is Rain, the artist who has been commissioned to paint the portrait of Demoyte, and who stirs things up amid St Bride's school at the same time. I didn't find this book particulary sombre, but a real page-turner. I loved the characters, loved some of the comic moments of the story, loved the plot and loved the suspense. And who really was that gypsy tramp?Would highly recommend, especially if, like me, this is your first encounter with Iris Murdoch.

  • Jorge
    2019-03-29 22:31

    Espléndido libro de la escritora irlandesa Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), lleno de equilibrio, proporcionalidad, dinamismo y profundidad. Equilibrio en el detalle de hondas introspecciones con diálogos, narración, acción, descripción y algo de intriga, ficción y mordacidad. El esquema narrativo de la autora se basa en frases cortas que hacen bastante ágil la lectura y que por lo general cada una de ellas está cargada de un mensaje que suele dar en el blanco para enfrentarnos de lleno con disyuntivas que implican valores morales. La novela fluye ligera y con una tensión dramática casi continua, tensión dramática que la autora sabe matizar en ocasiones envolviéndola dentro de un marco esplendoroso constituido por la naturaleza: los robustos e inmóviles árboles, el suave susurro del viento, la luz que arrojan las estrellas sobre la superficie terrestre, las hojas otoñales encendidas por la luz de la luna, los tenues sonidos de los pájaros y el río cristalino que fluye a través de un espeso bosque. Iris Murdoch plasma magistralmente amplios y agudos exámenes interiores que inquietan sobremanera al ser humano, pensamientos internos que no cesan de fluir en las conciencias de cada personaje, en especial del protagonista llamado William Mor. Pero sobre todo la novela destila sensibilidad con un toque de sabiduría y filosofía. Como acotación al calce puedo mencionar que Iris Murdoch tuvo como maestro de Filosofía a Ludwig Wittgenstein y estuvo involucrada sentimentalmente Elías Canetti. El narrador de esta historia, acerca de las desventuras y traspiés de una familia, es omnipresente, pareciera estar dentro del cuerpo y del alma de cada personaje y poseer la facultad de pensar, sentir y decidir en las voluntades de todos ellos. Al describir a cada personaje pareciera estarlo cincelado en el papel que está ante nosotros hasta descubrirnos a un ser humano de carne y hueso. La historia cuenta, entre otras cosas, una azarosa relación de amor, que no de pasión, entre un hombre maduro, casado y con dos hijos, un hombre atado a la monótona vida cotidiana cuya libertad de acción y sentimientos pareciera estar suprimida o al menos encerrada dentro de una estrecha jaula cuyos barrotes son las convenciones sociales, la moral burguesa y esa brutal monotonía en que suele convertirse la vida. Este hombre redescubre, casi sin quererlo, un mundo olvidado por muchos años; se reencuentra con el mundo joven y estimulante que le brinda una artista libre, una artista con una vida llena de abstracciones más que de convenciones, esto le hace confrontar su puritanismo prohijado por años y por la educación infantil que recibió con una nueva y estimulante situación que se convierte en una ordalía. Las sombras de esa educación pasada y esa vida monocorde lo han atrapado y perseguido por muchos años. Bastó tocar la mano de la joven pintora Rain Carter para encender de nuevo algo que permanecía adormecido en su interior desde hacía muchos años: su capacidad de emocionarse, olvidando que su vida está fuertemente enraizada a la tierra que lo sostiene y que no es fácil arrancar de tajo esa raíces. El entorno que rodea al protagonista, magistralmente planteado por la autora, se va estrechando hasta casi ahogarlo o colapsarlo. William Mor decide asumir los riesgos y consecuencias que implica el dejar una vida ya hecha y pactada donde a cambio de cierta estabilidad y seguridad se pierde la ilusión, el interés y la emoción. ¿Habrá algo más importante que la emoción y la alegría en el ser humano? Solamente el destino puede desbordar a esa deidad humana llamada voluntad que todo lo mueve y que casi todo lo domina y, así, la voluntad de Mor de permanecer en una vida entre el cielo y el infierno es arrastrada por el destino para llevarlo a uno de esos dos extremos. Y, ¿qué deberá hacer: elegir una nueva vida y borrar su pasado o abandonar y traicionar a la mujer y a los hijos que procreó? Las personas somos ondulantes y diversas. También, la mujer de Mor llamada Nan tiene sus propias razones, dudas, debilidades y fortalezas que utiliza para sobrevivir de la mejor manera en esa relación con Mor, relación que fluye a través de las páginas del libro con un realismo que nos sumerge de lleno en la historia. De repente la vida de Nan, una vida llena de convenciones y comodidades se ve arrasada y amenazada por un torbellino que ella busca matizar o incluso esconder. Una muy agradable sorpresa a cargo de Iris Murdoch, quien demuestra tener un grandísimo talento y una gran sensibilidad rodeada por un poderosos intelecto, características en las que basa su prosa para aleccionarnos acerca de las misteriosas interioridades humanas, así como de los resortes que se disparan en nuestro ser y que suelen surgir con mayor fuerza en situaciones extremas. Pareciera que el sentimiento de culpa, el significado de la libertad, las convenciones sociales, las obligaciones que nos impone una vida burguesa, incluso la autenticidad, afectan la relación entre las personas y socava la personalidad de cada uno de nosotros. La traducción de Flora Casas me ha parecido inmejorable.

  • Lauren
    2019-03-28 05:42

    I cannot recall how many Iris Murdoch books I have read. They have all been amazing, and it has taken quite a bit of self-restraint to resist reading each and every one of her books, one after the other. But I have thus far succeeded because I like to space out the goodness.The Sandcastle is a brief and straightforward novel about a family man who is unhappy with his marriage, and drawn toward a much younger woman who shows up in town for a spell. What I appreciated most about the book is the huge number of well drawn out characters. Not just the man, his (irritating!) wife and his would-be mistress, but also his children, their classmates, and the colleagues where he teaches. Even the minor characters are believable, and interesting, and I ended up caring what happened to each and every one of them.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-04-13 05:46

    My favorite Murdoch so far. There was an incessant current of vitality in the novel, even the henpecked and the discarded found itself surged and embraced. That's a feat in itself.

  • Tony
    2019-04-18 22:36

    THE SANDCASTLE. (1957). Iris Murdoch. *****. This novel by Murdoch (1919-1999) easily qualifies as a five-star performance, even though there were a couple of sections that could easily have been edited out and provided additional forward motion to the plot. It’s the story of Bill Mor, a middle-aged, married schoolmaster who falls violently in love with a young woman painter who has been commissioned to paint a portrait of the recently retired headmaster. The story becomes complicated by Nan, Mor’s dominating, although pathetic, wife. The fact that they have two teen-aged children, Felicity and Donald adds to the confusion. In addition to his career as a teacher, Mor has ambitions in politics. The artist, Rain, has her ambitions, too, to become a more perfect artist – like her father before her. She too is immediately dazzled by Mor, even though there is a significant disparity in their ages. The Path of their relationship is rocky, but determined. Ms. Murdoch manages to get under the skin of her protagonists and of all the ancillary players as well, and gives the reader a true understanding of the workings of the human heart and its combat with human emotions vs. the realities of everyday life and the expectations other people have of us. Highly recommended.

  • Викторија
    2019-04-08 03:31

    After all, he thought, I can be guided by this. Let me only make clear what I gain, and what I destroy.My very first Murdoch exceeded all my expectations. I frankly hardly know where to start, or even what I want to say. Funny, suspenseful, a loud, relentless hymn of creation and destruction. Rarely does one see such brilliant harmony between plot, character development, and hard work on developing the underlying themes. (The word "themes", naturally, said in Stephen Fry's voice)There are so many things, subtle and not so subtle, that contribute to the way the story is put together feels like an extremely human, emotional text and an arcane treatise on wishing impossible things, both at the same time. In this way the book is much like a painting itself.I thought of the plot as a bit of a landslide - the worlds of adults, of children, the private and the public, rolling, sliding towards the point of no return, colliding, changing.Perhaps it is rather that we feel our own face, as a three-dimensional mass, from within - and when we try in a painting to realize what another person's face is, we come back to the experience of our own.Art and its creation (the debate on how to paint a face) are juxtaposed with the forces that make and break the life of the individual (how to treat other people, love, religion, scruples). Rain is to leave after she finishes the portrait - so decisions are to be made on both counts. Just like the commissioned portrait must be finished, so must the protagonists decide how they are to leave the stage and how much they are prepared to leave behind.Beautiful, descriptive, thrilling - a stroke of genius.

  • Judy
    2019-04-15 00:49

    Interesting story for Murdoch. Mor is a teacher and housemaster at St Bride's school. His wife Nan is a carping, controlling woman who has beaten her husband down with a superior attitude. They have a teenage son who attends St Bride's and a pubescent daughter at another private school. Because I have read Harry Potter, I am familiar with this English school scene. A young female painter arrives at St Bride's where she has been commissioned to paint the portrait of the former headmaster. Mor falls in love with her, wants to throw away his marriage, and Nan must find a way to hold on to him. Because this is Iris Murdoch, there are plenty of hilarious, silly, and nail-biting scenes.I hadn't quite noticed this before in her novels, but I see it now. Murdoch is no feminist. She is as hard on her female characters as she is on the men. She finds the absurdity in any human endeavor and tromps hard. But she also makes it clear how dearly we all hold to our purposes and our ways of life. I am just blundering along in my reading of mid twentieth century English literature by women and so just beginning to glimpse what is going on. The major similarity I see between them (Murdoch, Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing, etc.) is a dedicated attempt to use intellect and philosophy as a means of going more deeply into human relations. To my thinking, that is a worthy aim.

  • Booklovinglady
    2019-04-11 02:36

    Read the book for the first time for my secondary school exams, early in 1982. Bought a copy some years later and read it again, as I really liked it.

  • Loretta
    2019-03-26 05:48

    Another very satisfying Murdoch read, for me. She captures the complexity and contradictions inherent in human nature and human relationships. I liked it a lot.

  • Meg Marie
    2019-03-20 23:45

    I feel like this book was very British, and very 1960s style - a lot of words and details, not a lot of dialogue, VERY little action. Not my favorite style, personally.

  • Lauren Albert
    2019-03-21 05:31

    I really liked this--it is my favorite of the three of her books that I've read or re-read so far. As the cover of the book says very accurately, it is about "the conflict between love and loyalty." Well, perhaps I would complicate that a bit. I'm not giving anything away (it is on the back cover description of the book) to say that the protagonist has to choose between his powerful love for a young painter and his loyalty to his family. What complicates the book description I mentioned is that he also feels a profound love for his children if not for his nagging, belittling wife. Someone is going to get hurt no matter what choice he makes. But the end, manages, at least for me, to have a life-affirming quality. Since I so often find her books depressing, this was unexpected. Perhaps it was simply the mood I was in when I read it. I won't know until I re-read it in 10 years. :-) 5/09

  • Kristin
    2019-03-26 00:48

    So much of what happens that is significant in this story (as in life) takes place in the minds of its characters in response to seemingly insignificant minutae. Murdoch has an amazing ability to capture the subtle shifts in thought or feeling which trigger an avalanche of responses from ourselves and from others. Which is not to say that the story is uneventful or merely cerebral. I like also how supernatural elements are suggested throughout, but gently, giving you the sense that there is something larger at work here while allowing you to preoccupy yourself with the intricacies of the human condition, as they play themselves out in the novel. Ultimately this is a very honest, human book. About characters not unlike ourselves who are genuinely doing their best to be good folks and make a coherent life out of life's strange materials. They don't always succeed, depending on how you judge it, but then neither do we.

  • Michael
    2019-04-02 02:45

    This is my third novel by Iris Murdoch, and probably the one I like the most. This may be because I don't remember the other books(Brunos Dream, the other title escapes me) except that I liked them. This novel is the story of Mor, a teacher in a private school married to a controlling wife, Nan. Without giving to much away, Mor ends up in a situation where he can start his life over with a younger women, Rain, or pursue his dreams within the confines of his marriage. This novel (one of Murdochs early works) is nicely paced, funny at times, and has a nice edge of your seat ending. Theres an odd bit of what I guess you would call Magical Realism, which comes off a little clunky, though I still found it facinating.

  • Bob
    2019-04-10 01:29

    All that Muriel Spark was somehow the appetizer to the four Murdoch's currently in my queue - don't you think Murdoch (or Margaret Drabble for that matter) are more deserving of the Nobel than Doris Lessing?Finished this - a good 'un! - a pretty standard Murdoch plot in which one half (often it's both) of a long-married couple with teenage children gets distracted - the affair is tempestuous but doomed, drama is injected by one of the children getting into some life-threatening scrape (I'm serious - I've seen all this in at least one other of her books) - everything works out not necessarily for the best but at least resolved.

  • Leanne Hunt
    2019-03-26 23:33

    I am always positive about Iris Murdoch's books simply because of the detailed character descriptions, insight into motivation and clever storytelling. The prologue to the edition I read said there was very little to tie the title to the actual story except with reference to the Bible passage about the man who built his house on the sand and saw it washed away. The book is a tender portrayal of a man whose life has become dull and who rediscovers his own capacity for love through an artist and her art. Memorable in its word pictures, if not in its plot.

  • Ben Loory
    2019-04-11 00:30

    iris murdoch continues to dazzle... still don't know how she does it... this is probably the "normalest" of the books of hers i've read-- it's almost completely "realistic"-- and yet somehow it too seems to glow from within with mystery and fantasy and hallucinatory detail and feeling and metaphysical import... love iris murdoch more than ever... i feel like i live her books more than read them...

  • Ali
    2019-04-02 03:44

    Iris Murdoch's third published novel is a fascinating about the relationship between a married school master and a young woman who arrives to paint the portrait of the retired headmaster. A more domestic, and mature work than the previous two novels.

  • Elaine
    2019-03-23 02:35

    This is really more worthy of a 3 1/2 star rating, in my opinion. In the very simple lives of ordinary people, with mundane English village lifestyles of honorable participants, there can emerge the most tormenting, unsolvable desires that can never be fulfilled, and one must just continue to endure, while all that promises happiness and contentment is lost just like the weak foundation of a sandcastle.Murdoch was a genius, and she portrayed all the psychological torment along with detailed, step-by-step portrayal of actions and happenings, some of which were coincidental. The best one which comes to my mind was the absurd scene where the art teacher at the boys' public (in the US we would use the term "prep") school and the ridiculous behavior of all the multi-aged student residents who were inattentive and loud in grand style. It was a slide presentation, and she captured the essence of the students' disregard and loud misbehavior. Let me just say, in my life experience, I have been at such occsions, and she captured the actions accurately.What kept me from ranking this book higher was not really the fault of the author: in some ways, it does not stand the test of time, since it was published 50 years or so ago, I think, and society's morals have changed so much. For example, the unfaithful husband had chosen not to consumate his love with the young woman who loves him too; this was stated very eloquently by the author, and never mentioned again. For we 21st. century readers, it was an OK concept as I tire of the recapitualtions of the wet kisses and other details, but it can cause a disbelief in one who might prefer such (and I don't) as we often read today. For those of us who search out all forms of British drama on PBS and the like, it was pleasing and entertaining. I need to read more of Murdoch's books.

  • Sara
    2019-04-13 00:42

    I have never read a book which details the hopes and despair of an ill-conceived affair so well, but without romanticising it in the slightest. The plot describes the ageing academic, Mor, and his brilliantly infuriating wife, Nan, in the power struggle of their largely loveless marriage. When Mor accidentally falls in love with a vivacious and youthful artist called Rain, his entire life is thrown into turmoil as he suddenly discovers happiness and way to exist in his own right. Though Murdoch paints every character's feelings sensitively and with an unabashed honesty, she in no way glorifies infidelity, which is such a risk when dealing with this issue. Instead, she presents a very honest picture of the many issues which tear a family apart. The Sandcastle is both heart wrenching and infuriating, but much like these situations in real life (I suppose), expect no ultimate happy ending!

  • dead letter office
    2019-03-26 02:19

    I love Iris Murdoch. This is the fourth book I've read by her and the fourth one in which a swimming scene figures prominently. This time everything turns around Rain's swim in the river (not, as Felicity would have had it, around the ceremony on the rocks or the climb on the tower).On a separate note, here is a list of books in which cars sink in rivers: Gallatin Canyon, The Love of a Good Woman, The Sandcastle. Let me know if I have missed any.

  • Yulia
    2019-04-16 05:32

    I've recently reread this book for the Home Reading class that I'm teaching and I was yet again reminded of how amazingly beautiful and incredibly symbolic it is. Seriously, this book is teeming with symbols of all kinds imaginable! I remember not particularly liking it back then, in my third year, but that was because reading it (and discussing every single detail, even (seemingly) insignificant ones) was a must and because the language was perhaps a bit too sophisticated to me then, but now I enjoyed it immensely. Even though it's extremely depressing, which is a thing that - in most cases - always puts me off reading. :/

  • Kathryn Hurn
    2019-04-09 23:25

    Very sweet story about the complications of loving different people at different times and places of your life. We want to think love and everything else are permanent fixtures, but nothing in this world is a sure bet.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-26 04:36

    I had never read Iris Murdoch before. Really enjoyed - about a private boy's school teacher in England mid century and his marriage and dreams. Sad but also really funny at times. Sort of reminded me a bit of Virginia Woolf.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-14 04:48

    Quintessential Brit Lit - perfectly tuned and sneakily funny. One of the most accessible of the great writers.

  • Silvia
    2019-04-12 05:39

    My favourite book ever, it's simply perfect, Murdoch at her very best!!!!!!

  • Lisbeth Solberg
    2019-04-01 02:44

    What I posted earlier:Brilliant so far. I'm in the middle of a sweet and funny scene which (I'm certain) will culminate in tragedy (like the can't-stop-singing scene in The God of Small Things). I want to stop reading the book because I don't want the book to stop.My new comments now that our book group (of two) has discussed it:I think the only negative for me was that I got this somewhat cliche picture in my head of Rain as a cinematic female lead like Audrey Hepburn or Leslie Caron, and I couldn't shake it (not my head, the picture).But I loved the recurrent imagery of curls and whorls, curls of paint, whorls of sky, of furniture, of faces; I loved the theme of faces and what they reveal (or not) and the "lords and owners of our faces" reference. I loved the ambiguous symbolism of the Tarot cards, the effective but not-too-revealing foreshadowing, the philosophical questions about art and purpose, love and meaning, the sensuous but never too copious physical description. I loved the characters, all of them, with all their awkwardness and confusion. And I loved the humor tangled up with the melancholy.This work of Murdoch may be undervalued due to its romanticism (both kinds). For instance: "In that instant she saw him, close, mysterious, other than herself, full to the brim of his own particular history." Reminded me of Atonement with its letter mishap and with its sometimes breathless urgency.